Yoga retreats paired with volunteering - it’s the ultimate travel experience to feed your soul! As our lives become increasingly busy with technology and social media feeds, we’re finding it harder to disconnect from these artificial platforms. Yoga has become the go-to practice to realign with our physical, mental and spiritual origins, and this has been amplified by more and more people traveling to yoga retreats to reconnect with nature and those around them. Some popular reasons to travel to a yoga retreat abroad include specific teachings, cultural understanding, setting tranquility and family-friendly holiday flexibility.
Whatever the motivation for taking part in a yoga holiday, adding volunteer work to your itinerary elevates your personal growth and travel experience. Volunteering adds a fulfilling and deepened cultural exchange that puts you right at the heart of the community you’re working in.
To combine a yoga retreat and volunteer work into one seamless trip abroad, we recommend figuring out your budget and what you want from the experience. Ask yourself what type of volunteer work you want to engage in, whether you want to volunteer first and then go to a yoga retreat, or whether your budget means a DIY retreat - volunteering on an IVHQ program and finding a yoga studio nearby to practice in your free time. Let these factors guide your planning! We’ve outlined a few recommended volunteering and yoga holidays below.
The small Indonesian island of Bali is a popular tourist destination for those seeking the eat, pray, love experience. If you venture into the cultural center of Ubud, you will find an environment perfect for re-centering your life - there’s a number of vegan eateries, a peaceful culture to explore and stunning landscapes wherever you look! There’s no shortage of yoga options to consider either! You could go full-immersion and experience ashram life, take time out to re-calibrate on a retreat, or buy a class pass at one of the dozens of world-class studios!
IVHQ’s Bali volunteer program is set in Ubud, so it’s easy to pair the right yoga option for you with the perfect volunteer opportunity. There are six meaningful projects you can support, including Construction and Renovation, Environmental, Healthcare Education, Kindergarten, Teaching and Turtle Conservation. On all but the Turtle Conservation project, which is based on the island of Nusa Penida, you’ll be accommodated in a volunteer house approximately 15 minutes outside of central Ubud. Village life is quintessentially local and you’ll get a good chance to see typical Balinese life!
Consider combining volunteering on the Bali program with a class pass at The Yoga Barn. This DIY approach to a yoga retreat makes for a unique and affordable option where you can extend your yoga practice while doing something purposeful for the community, creating a holistic and unforgettable holiday.
The Yoga Barn provides a relaxed environment for yoga enthusiasts and there is flexibility to take part in a number of workshops and classes including Yoga, Dance, Meditation, Ayurveda, Detox, Breathwork, various Healing modalities and more.
Cost and options
- Volunteer program fees from $325 for one week
- For an affordable volunteering and yoga option, consider combining volunteering on the IVHQ Bali program with a class pass at The Yoga Barn
- Or follow up your volunteer program with a yoga and health retreat at The Chillhouse in Canggu
Costa Rica is a country of contrasts, boasting rugged rainforests filled with exotic creatures and stunning coastlines from both the Caribbean and Pacific. The IVHQ Costa Rica program is predominantly located in the capital city, San Jose, with project options also available in Manuel Antonio. San Jose is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, and adventure is never too far away. With Spanish colonial buildings scattered throughout the city, there is plenty of history to discover.
To bring your volunteering and yoga holiday goals to life, pair a San Jose-based volunteer project with a yoga studio in the city for a meaningful and affordable option! Consider giving back on Childcare, Healthcare, Construction and Renovation, Teaching English or Special Needs Care projects alongside other international volunteers.
If you’re looking to get out of the city for a volunteer project, check out the Turtle Conservation or Eco-Agriculture Conservation projects in Costa Rica and then head to a coastal yoga and surf retreat, such as Anamaya Resort. You can also gain your yoga teacher training certification here! As a volunteer on the Turtle Conservation project, you’ll be working alongside a Costa Rican biologist to assist with sea turtle studies and protection work, while assisting with sustainable egg protection programs. The Eco-Agriculture Conservation project is based in the central highlands of Costa Rica, where you can assist local communities through strengthening coffee production operations. Not only will you offer support through helping with coffee growing and production, but also through reforestation, various agriculture efforts and caring for the local community.
Cost and options
- Volunteer program fees from $370 for one week
- To create a DIY volunteering + yoga retreat, check out the classes at Yoga Conexion, which you can join while volunteering in San Jose
- Or head to Anamaya Resort for a yoga retreat after volunteering on the Costa Rica program
If you want your volunteer yoga retreat to be in a peaceful, natural location, IVHQ’s Indonesia program is the ultimate option. Based on the beautiful island of Simeulue, off the west coast of Sumatra, this secluded program offers volunteer work and a yoga/surf camp all in one. So when you’re not working to help conserve the local ecosystem, or helping out in the community, you have the opportunity to take part in yoga classes and further connect with your stunning surroundings.
On the volunteer program, you can help with Island Conservation, which involves community education, bird surveys, gardening and marine surveys. Then in your downtime, yoga classes can be taken in the morning or afternoon, depending on the teacher available at the time (teachers are available year-round and there are specialized instructors brought in periodically).
Cost and details
- This program is perfect for volunteers over 30
- Volunteer program fees from $800 for one week
- Yoga classes available before and after daily volunteer work
India is the home of yoga, and a must for anyone wanting to experience an authentic and immersive ashram. The IVHQ India - Kerala program is based in the beautiful city of Kerala on the Arabian coast, famous for palm-lined beaches, backwaters, mountains and wildlife! When you’re not taking in your surroundings and immersing yourself in volunteer work, Kerala offers the ultimate zen yoga escape.
On the Kerala volunteer program, you can volunteer on the following projects: Kindergarten, Teaching, Medical, Dentistry, Women’s Education and Special Needs Care. The majority of placements are located in the city of Kochi (or Cochin). Depending on your exact placement, volunteer work will be roughly four - six hours a day and you will have ample opportunity in the evenings to explore your surroundings.
Kerala is the birthplace of Ayurveda, which is commonly accepted as the world’s most sophisticated and powerful mind-body health system. As an extension of your volunteer week, there is the option to add a week of detox, cleanse and relaxation to your stay, making for the ultimate soul week.
Cost and options
- Volunteer program fees from $360 for one week
- Check out Fort House with weekly packages starting from US$590
Mexico is a country steeped in ancient ruins and culture, which is complemented by beautiful beaches renowned the world over. By volunteering in Mexico, you’ll get to know the culture and community first-hand as you work alongside locals to give back on community-driven initiatives, and then you can wind down and work on yourself at a nearby yoga retreat.
The IVHQ Mexico program is based in Merida, a city rich in Mayan and colonial heritage. There are five volunteer opportunities to support around the city including Teaching English, Childcare, Special Needs Care, Animal Care/Animal Rights and Sustainable Agriculture projects. You can expect to volunteer for four to six hours each day, with the opportunity to explore your surroundings during the evenings and weekends.
If you’re in need of a complete life overhaul or looking for the ultimate opportunity to re-connect, then consider volunteering on the Sustainable Agriculture project, which offers a truly unique and immersive volunteer experience. You’ll put yourself back in touch with nature working on sustainable farming and reforestation efforts within rural, contemporary Mayan communities. You’ll be sleeping in hammocks, using composting toilets and bucket showers – and no WiFi! You’ll leave refreshed from waking up to the sound of birds, working the land and eating meals that have come completely from the garden! It’s the perfect lead-in to a coastal yoga retreat.
For the ultimate yoga holiday in Mexico, check out the Amansala Yoga Retreat in Tulum. Located on a pristine beach approximately three hours from Merida, this yoga retreat is surrounded by spectacular Mayan ruins, clear turquoise waters and white sandy beaches. Tulum is an eco-friendly paradise preferred by yogis worldwide for the relaxed bohemian-chic feel and breathtaking beaches.
Cost and yoga options
- Volunteer program fees from $270 for one week
- For yoga retreat options based around Tulum, explore Amansala Yoga Retreat
Thailand is a popular Southeast Asian country for tourists, known for tropical beaches and ancient Buddhist temples. The Thailand volunteer program is based in Chiang Rai, the northernmost province of Thailand, famous for beautiful mountain scenery and historic sites. It offers a diverse experience of cultural heritage and natural wonder and a break from the fast pace of Bangkok, helping you to find your focus in the community.
When volunteering in Thailand with IVHQ, you can assist with Outdoor Work, Teaching English or Childcare. Volunteer work is based in local villages and there is always an opportunity to diversify tasks day to day. You can expect to volunteer for four to six hours a day, with time in the evenings to explore your surroundings or plan for your projects the next day.
To combine a yoga retreat with your volunteer program, consider staying in northern Thailand and exploring the yoga and wellness community in Chiang Mai. Otherwise, after your volunteer program, follow in the footsteps of hundreds of yogis and head to Koh Phangan or Koh Samui. This option offers a coastal break and opportunity to experience Thailand from the hill tribe communities in the north, to the shores of some of Thailand’s best-known islands.
Cost and options:
- Volunteer program fees from $320 for one week
- For a tropical island-based yoga retreat, check out The Sanctuary on Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand, a sister island to Koh Samui
- Or stay in Northern Thailand and practice at a yoga studio in Chiang Mai, such as The Yoga Tree
Morocco is an especially multicultural country, taking influences from Berber, Arabian and European cultures. This is further highlighted by the diverse landscapes, as Morocco is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea and flows into epic mountain ranges, vast deserts and ancient cities.
The IVHQ Morocco program is based in Rabat, where you can take part on Childcare, Teaching English, Teaching French, Women’s Education, Sports Development or Ramadan projects. These projects are based in local communities and allow you to see the many faces of Morocco. Work typically lasts for four to six hours each day. There is also the option to volunteer for half a day take Arabic or French language lessons for the other half.
Cost and options:
- Volunteer program fees from $245 for one week
- To practice yoga at sunrise and sunset then learn to surf during the day, consider Surf Star Morocco
- Or check out Revealing Vajra for an all-inclusive, all-levels yoga holiday based out of Marrakech
Whether you’re combining a yoga retreat with a volunteer program, or taking a yoga class in your downtime, pairing volunteering with a yoga holiday is the perfect way to disconnect and reconnect with that’s important in life. For more information, see our full range of volunteer abroad programs.